A quick pasta dinner makes weeknights go smoothly, whether you are rushing home from work or trying to feed the hungry hordes in a hurry.
This one combines frozen artichokes and spinach in a creamy ricotta sauce. It’s on the table in less under 30 minutes.
EASY PREP WITH FROZEN ARTICHOKES
Frozen artichoke hearts are your friends here. They retain a lot of the fresh green flavor of fresh artichokes and are closer to the real deal than artichokes you can purchase in a jar or a can.
Once frozen artichokes are defrosted, the texture tends to be a little softer than freshly peeled ones, so they will cook more quickly, too. The biggest advantage? You don’t need to do all that the tedious peeling and cooking.
Look for frozen artichokes that are loose in the bag, rather than in a block, which makes them easier to work with. If you have time, let them sit out for 10 minutes or so to partially defrost. If you don’t have time, then they will take just a few minutes longer to heat all the way through in the skillet.
COOK THE PASTA TO AL DENTE
For the pasta, choose a medium pasta shape such as penne or fusilli. I particularly love the look of lumache (little snails), but I can’t always find them.
Cook the pasta until al dente—usually just a minute less than what the directions on the package instruct.
With this recipe, as with most Italian pasta dishes, the cooked pasta goes into the skillet along with the sauce and other ingredients so it has a chance to cook for an extra 30 seconds or so and absorb flavors. Al dente pasta will finish perfectly in the pan without becoming overcooked or mushy.
FINISH WITH SOME CRUNCH!
The breadcrumb and almond topping adds some panache and a bit of surprise to this vegetarian pasta. Buy almonds that are already roasted and unsalted if you can; this way you don’t have to toast them in the oven. (If you can’t find roasted and unsalted almonds, then toast them on a baking sheet at 350ºF for 8 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant.)
Eat well! be happy!
To coarsely “chop” almonds without pulling out your food processor, place them in a plastic zipper bag, seal the bag, and bash it with a rolling pin so the nuts are in small, uneven pieces.
MORE EASY WEEKNIGHT PASTA RECIPES
Pasta with Spinach, Artichokes and Ricotta Recipe
If you have time, let the artichokes sit out for 10 minutes or so to partially defrost. If you don’t have time, then they will take just a few minutes longer to heat all the way through in the skillet.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 3/4 pound medium shaped pasta, such as penne, medium shells, lumache, or fusilli
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 (12-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, partially thawed if time allows (See Recipe Note)
- 3 ounces (3 packed cups) baby spinach
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
1 Make the breadcrumb topping: In a small skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the breadcrumbs and chopped almonds, and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until brown and crisp. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste. Set aside.
2 Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente. (Check the package for recommended cooking time and cook one minute less.)
Scoop out and set aside 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta in a colander.
3 While the pasta cooks, cook the artichokes: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the artichokes and stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Stir in the spinach and cook for another 30 seconds, or until it has wilted very slightly. Stir in the lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Taste and add additional salt if needed.
4 Toss the pasta with the artichokes: Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the artichokes. Add the Parmesan and lemon juice, and toss to combine. Dollop the ricotta over the pasta by the spoonful. Toss together. If the pasta seems dry, add a little of the pasta cooking water. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper.
5 Serve the pasta: Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top with the toasted breadcrumbs and almonds. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
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